Why you should not sign up to use PastorsLine
Let’s be honest. Our PastorsLine dashboard offers so much that at times, it feels overwhelming. Here are some options to consider.
Is this enough to convince you not to move forward? Let’s check.
PastorsLine is not the platform for you right now if you are looking for a “2-door sports car” and an older, bigger SUV utility vehicle may not do it for you.
We prefer to think of PastorsLine as a vintage truck. The engine is superb. The craftsmanship is solid. In fact, we’ve been tinkering with its performance and features for a few years, not based on what we think you need but based on feedback from hundreds of churches. As a result, PastorsLine has become very powerful and useful.
Here are things we do that others may not do well.
- 2-way integrations with CCB and Planning Center. MailChimp is next on our list.
- Multiple users with some advanced controls.
- Multiple numbers to avoid the ‘inbox madness’.
- Some multicampus options: go beyond just one account while keeping connected to your campuses/departments.
- LandLine SMS: text-enable your church landline and reuse a number that your church already knows.
- NEW - We’ve just launched multiple keywords per campaign. Imagine being able to set up several keywords (e.g. Pray/Prayer) to trigger the same campaign, in order to catch errors or to allow you to use different words for branding purposes.
- Digital Connect Texts: because digital connect cards for guests are dead.
- Though texting is what we focus on, having the option to send a voice broadcast or receive a call might be of value to your ministry. You can call out on the numbers from the desktop and not your personal cell phone.
- Our pricing is very competitive at the moment. This might change in the future, so now is the time to lock in our rates. You get most of the features without having to pay an add-on fee.
And so much more…
However, the time spent on performance meant that the overall comfort suffered. The suspension springs are worn, so things get a little bumpy at times. The seats and exterior paint job are a little dated, so our web app doesn’t look as fresh as it could. The mobile app was still stuck in phase 1.
On the flip side, our church partners who use PastorsLine love what that vehicle can do for their church communication.
Essentially, PastorsLine is a workhorse for a fraction of the cost.
The good news is that for the next 3-6 months, we are putting a lot of TLC into that very area: the aesthetics. Of course, we will continue adding useful features as we think of ourselves as problem solvers: partnering with your church to bring more people closer to Christ. But comfort is important, too. When communication is comfortable, people tend to be in touch more, and that’s what we’re about—easily done, quality communication to build strong relationships.
So, here’s what we’re doing to improve things:
Cleaner Web Application that works across all browsers
We are working on a cleaner UI and better flow for our desktop app—same power but designed to minimize the overwhelming feeling and your learning curve. Our focus will initially be where most of the communication happens—the Inbox. Then we will move to the other areas. Here are a few samples of what we would be doing.
Mobile App …
By Q1 or Q2 2019, we plan on re-launching our mobile application to utilize more native features (Phase 2). This is a huge project (complete recode). It's already in progress and we are excited to give you a cleaner way to communicate with your members and visitors from your mobile devices. The initial versions will focus on sending and receiving messages. Later versions will include calling and other campaign options. We want you to be able to manage most or all aspects of your account from your mobile device by 2020.
So what does your church communication need right now? A utility vehicle that can do more or something else? If the former, we are your best investment that will keep giving—with the big bonus that you can influence changes.
Update 2019: Changes are coming soon!!!
As you know, we always do our best to improve the functionality and clarity of PastorsLine. Technically, a group with a keyword and/or auto-reply is a campaign. So, we are recommending that from now on, when you create a new group with keyword(s) and/or autoreply, you do so from the CAMPAIGNS page. To support this, we have made a change.
There is a new link option on your Groups page (gold box in image above). To add a new group with a keyword and/or autoreply, we recommend clicking on this link option.
We hope you’ve heard that we are working hard to finish up Version 3 of our PastorsLine app, so we can roll it out soon.
One of the design improvements in PastorsLine Version 3 (PL V3) is more editing cohesion. In other words, less back and forth. To get there, we need to make some changes to the current version, so the changeover will work more smoothly.
THE CURRENT CHANGE
Since a keyword with an autoreply should actually be considered a campaign, your Campaigns Page now includes all your groups with keywords and autoreplies (see turquoise box and arrow in image below).
These are not duplicates! Your keyword/autoreply campaigns have now been added to your Campaigns Page. Please do not delete your campaigns by mistake!
Eventually, when you are working in PL V3, you will edit all your campaigns from your Campaigns Page – not from the Groups Page. More cohesive, right?
EDITING FOR NOW
You have two edit options.
|Edit from your Groups Page (as before). Clicking on Edit (pencil icon) will open the edit page Edit Group.||Edit from your Campaigns Page (new). Clicking on Edit (pencil icon) will open the edit page Edit Autoreply.|
Checking numbers is cheaper.
Each check (or recheck) only costs 0.5 credits. Even more of a reason to use this service, so you don’t waste credits sending messages to number which cannot receive them.
Here are the relevant Help Desk articles with more details:
PastorsLine has made it easier for churches who wish to use our dedicated short code when sending messages.
Previously – You needed to manually switch to the short code.
Now – The short code is the primary number default (crown icon in brown box above). In other words, unless you change it, your SMS will be sent from our PastorsLine dedicated short code, 77411.
So that our software logic will work, check out the set up in this help desk article.
Let’s say you are in the HUB. You want to send a group message, but before you do, you want to add someone to that group. Here’s how to do that.
Step 1: Click on the “+ Members” plus sign under the group’s members details on the right of the screen:
Step 2: This screen will pop up.
Search for the person’s name or number to add to the group. If no name or number is found, and the person you are adding to the group is also new to your database, PastorsLine will add that phone number to the group and create a “shell” contact you can edit later.
Due to increased carrier filtering, bulk text messages sent via a long code (10 digit, local number) may be flagged as “spam”. Here’s our current recommendation: sending your bulk messages and blasts via our shared short code.
To find out more about this in general, check out this Help Desk article.
We wanted to make sure that you are aware of this situation BEFORE you send such messages.
So, we added a few messages/warnings.
- Trying to send an autoreply with a link from your long code number in a data capture or simple autoreply? You will see this message in orange:
- Trying to send a group message from the long code with a link? After hitting “send”, you will see this pop up warning to change to the short code:
- Sending a message to a LARGE group? This message let’s you know we recommend using the short code:
Here’s how we are handling that:
You can try out the HUB. If you don’t like it, you can switch back to the older interface by default. Note, however, that we are phasing out active support of our older interface. This means that we will no longer be adding new features or fixing issues.
I. Regular SMS text messages:
For SMS messages sent via your LONG code
We will auto-reprocess your messages using either the SHORT code or toll free number (depending on what you have selected in the Organization Settings page).
If you sent the SMS message via the SHORT code
We will auto-reprocess your message using your long code.
II. SMS text messages containing a LINK (URL):
If you sent these SMS messages via your LONG code
We will auto-reprocess your messages using the short code or toll free number (depending on what you have selected in the Organization Settings page).
For such text messages sent via the short code
We will auto-reprocess using your LONG code number.
III. MMS messages (text + image):
1. If you sent these messages via your LONG code:
1a. We first check internally to see if their carrier accepts MMS from a short code.
1b. If it does, we resend your message using the short code.
1c. For those who do not, we will convert the image into a URL instead of an attachment and then auto-reprocess your message using the short code.
2. For such text messages sent via the SHORT code OR a toll free number:
2a. We first check to make sure the carrier accepts MMS from a short code.
2b. If it does, we resend your message using the short code.
2c. For those who do not, we will convert the image into a URL instead of an attachment and then auto-reprocess your message using the short code.
2d. If it is still undelivered after all of that, we auto-reprocess your message again using your LONG code.
On the PastorsLine website, you will see our online chat option (yellow arrow below).
Besides asking us questions or getting help as needed, this is a place to:
- provide feedback about PastorsLine
- submit feature requests to be voted on by other churches.
When you sign in, it’s also available in your account anywhere you see the online chat option.
When you click on the icon, a pop-up screen gives you feedback options.
We want to clarify how smart syncing works.
The first time smart syncing checks a contact it is quite strict.
Even if one match is found, if the first/last name, email, or phone number do not match exactly, smart syncing will not automatch it.
After the first time…
After this first initial match through smart syncing, when the contact texts in new information in the future, the system will update this profile automatically.
Before, we did this for only one record, and the data from PastorsLine would override the one in the integration (PCO, CCB). That is logical and works well assuming the person texting in gives good information. If they give garbage, it’s not great.
Canadian carriers gave us free access to use our Look-up API. This is a feature which allows PastorsLine to find out the phone number type (think: landline, mobile, VOIP, invalid number, etc).
Canadian carriers changed their privacy regulations and stopped allowing free access. Look-up access required payment of a fee. In order to provide our churches access to this service again, PastorsLine paid the fee.
Now, we can again use the look-up feature for Canadian numbers.
Churches are using a short code (or toll-free number) to work around the cell phone provider restrictions. Church text messages are processed via the short code/toll-free number and replies are received to that same code or number.
What happens if a church has multiple organizations or campuses? How does PastorsLine decide who receives the replies?
The PastorsLine system sends replies to the LAST organization/campus which sent a message.
Your church has 2 campuses: North and South Campus.
From the North Campus account, using the short code, you send a group message to all of your contacts. All replies to this group message will go to the North Campus account.
Then, from the South Campus account, using the short code, you send a message to the same contacts group. Now, all replies will be sent to the South Campus account—even if the reply is to the North Campus message.
The idea is we will always send the reply to the last organization a message was sent from.
Make the workloads of everyone in your church lighter by sharing your templates.
Creating a new template? Toggle on the Sharing button during the creation process.
Template already exists? Edit the existing template by toggling on the Sharing button.
Either way, it is one click to a lighter workload.
The walkthrough is in this article.
There is a new voice broadcast module. This article will show you how to access it from Inbox 1.0 or from within the HUB.
We’ve gotten feedback about the delay between when a contact answers the call and when the system plays the voice broadcast message. Even though the delay is only 3 seconds, some people are feeling that this is too long.
Here is our solution: Call Screening Greeting. You will find the explanation in Step 3 (Edit your settings).
MAJOR update—the mobile carriers have approved our short code: 77411.
We have tested and implemented it in our system.
Note: The use of the short code requires a signature. A signature lets recipients know who the message is from, provides a number to reply to, and allows them the chance to “opt out” of receiving future messages from you. This signature cannot be removed. The characters for this signature are included in the total character count for your message.
Here’s how you can use our short code:
- Send bulk messages in both the legacy inbox and the new HUB—MMS or SMS.
- Select a signature (required) when sending messages.
- Reprocess failed messages to increase the deliverability.
- Use the short code as the “from” number in Automated Message Campaigns
- Use this with keywords (coming soon!).
- Apply it to campaigns except for Automated Message Campaigns.
- Use it outside of US marketing.
Why a short code?
- We were responding to the rapid and sporadic changes with carriers in the US about filtering.
- It’s the best option (speed and deliverability) when sending large bulk messages—though we do offer secondary numbers for a less spammy feel.
- Also read about the pros and cons of using a shortcode: SMS text messaging, short and long codes explored
Previously, editing the date of birth (DOB) was only by means of clicking the dropdown calendar. This was time-consuming.
Now, the PastorsLine team has made the DOB box editable. Just type in the DOB in YYYY-MM-DD format.
For more information, check out this Help Desk article.
The “Reply STOP to Opt Out” option was disappearing when switching back and forth from short codes to toll-free numbers.
Now, it appears consistently in both cases.
Sometimes, as you clean something up, another issue is revealed. This is what happened with templates. Everyone using PastorsLine in the church was seeing all the templates…theirs and all the others.
Quite confusing to be sure.
Existing templates: Everyone will see all the templates. However, the list they see is linked to their user name. So, they can clean up that list (delete templates) without impacting the lists that other users see.
Any NEW template a user creates will only appear on that user’s individual template list.
Are you are a fan of the PastorsLine Templates feature?
Then, you will be happy to hear that it works in the new HUB, too.
Not yet using Templates to do more in less time?
Perhaps this is the opportunity you have been waiting for.
Basically, Templates in the HUB work the same way as in the Legacy App. The process just looks a little different.
Here is a walk-through and video for more information.
Even though texting is still the top communication form, there are many situations in which a voice message will be more effective.
Set up your Voice Broadcast by starting at the Inbox Tab or the Groups Tab — whichever works better for you. The full walkthrough is at this link.
There are currently 5 options for your voice recording:
A) Web Record – Record from your computer / web your voice broadcast
B) Mobile Record – Record your voice broadcast over the phone (PastorsLine will call you)
C) Upload MP3 – Upload a MP3 file you have already created
D) Text to Voice – Have an automated voice read your text to the recipient
E) Broadcast Library – Select from a list of previously used broadcasts (if saved as templates)
MAJOR Update—Coming soon: voice broadcasts with the New Hub.
It’s an improved design with the following options:
- record a voice broadcast directly from your browser
- do a phone call record
- upload an MP3
and then use and preview your text-to-voice option all via a sleek simple interface.
ETA for beta release is before Christmas.
Maybe you can send a nice heartwarming voice broadcast to your list wishing them a Merry Christmas.
You can even verify your cell or church landline as the caller ID, so they know who’s calling.
The legacy app (Inbox 1.0)
PastorsLine gave you the option of adding images, merge fields, templates, and/or links to your text messages.
The new HUB
Now, all these 4 options are available in the new HUB, too.
Time to check out the new HUB?
Have you been sticking with Inbox 1.0 because you use templates/links and they were not previously available in the new HUB? That made sense but now they are.
This means that most of the features of Inbox 1.0 are available via the HUB in a faster and more user-friendly way.
We suggest that it’s time to check things out for yourself (if you have not already done so).
This new page has not finished its development, but you can begin using it now.
Its purpose is to capture some global details about your organization.
At the moment, one of the big uses of these details is when reprocessing (resending) failed messages via a short code in cases of filtering by the mobile carriers. Read more about this here.
Short Organization Name
This field will allow up to 12 letters. This short name will be part of the unique signature created when resending failed messages.
So often, duality is seen as something negative (think Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or multiple personality disorder).
In this case, our PastorsLine duality is positive and very beneficial to everyone.
The way we are working at the moment
Each week, we spend dozens and dozens of hours on developing our new Hub AS WELL AS maintaining and improving our Legacy app.
Why aren’t we just working on the new hub?
We realized that the PastorsLine platform is huge. That means a new hub could take months and months to get right.
BTW…just to remind you…the new hub is not just a reskin. It is a completely new and separate app, written from scratch, which needs proper development and testing.
So, working just on a new hub would leave our current clients (who have supported us for years, thanks!) without the features they need.
Since we always prioritize our clients’ needs, there was no real choice. It was obvious that we needed to keep our Legacy app not only in great shape but even add the features which our current clients need now, and later move those features over to the new hub.
Those joining PastorsLine now are being directed to the new hub. They are helping us work out all the bugs, identifiying where we need to tweak the code.
Even some older clients are touching the new hub in some areas.
Want to try the new Hub?
Log in to PastorsLine. Click on My Profile. The User Settings page will open. At the top, it should say “New Hub Beta Testing (Try It)” [green arrow]. Click on that. The toggle switch [blue arrow] should be turned on, switching you over to the new hub by default.
Want to go back to the old hub? Just toggle the switch off and back you will go.
Why should you try the new Hub?
Everything which you could do from the old Inbox you can now do more easily and quickly from the new Hub.
Templates and Links
Yes, these are also on the new Hub. Recently added.
One last redesign
We’ve been building our new app for about a year now. Even during that relatively short time, technology has changed so much. As a result, we are doing some redesign. We really want this version of our app to be very future-forward.
Also, we are paying a lot of attention to the back end, including our different integrations.
A general makeover
PastorsLine is going to be easier on the eye with a toned-down theme.
In addition, it should be cleaner to work with.
Next big feature…voicemail
The current voice broadcast feature is a little bit dated and recording messages is not so user-friendly.
Our new voice broadcast feature, which will probably be ready in 3-4 weeks, will be much more dynamic.
You will be able to record voice messages with several, easily accessed options.
But there’s more…
Eventually, you will be able to write a message which can then be converted into a voice broadcast and later sent as an email. In this way, you will be able to communicate in a variety of ways with just one input.
We recently re-skinned our legacy PastorsLine app by applying basic UI and UX fixes.
This fix is a short-term solution.
We are continuing to rebuild our entire app from the ground up. The newer version is still in beta, and we are tweaking it weekly. This rebuild will include new features.
Why the reskin?
We recognized that rushing through a rebuild doesn’t add value to you, but we also recognized you need a better experience now in how the app behaves and how easy it is on your eyes.
We hope these tweaks will help you and your team with your current day-to-day texting as we continue to commit to doing a full revamp in the coming months.
Please report any issues you see.
Thanks for checking out our new hub.
It’s in early beta testing. We are still working on tweaks to complete our “Phase 1”.
Before using it for a large campaign, send yourself a test message, and then reply to it. Send a small group test…just to be sure it works as expected.
Please provide feedback (bugs or features) here –> https://feedback.pastorsline.com/
We require another week to completed all the modules before we can release it to you.
Option to handle your duplicate data within PastorsLine 2.0
Milestone 9 of 14 done. Milestone 10 is in progress. ETA May 20th for beta testing. Maybe sooner.
Here’s a preview.
We are on milestone 9. New ETA for beta testing is May 15th. Here’s a video update.
We apologize for the delay.
As of April 15th, 2019, we are on milestone 8 of 14 for our new Hub (communication hub – Inbox). It’s a major revamp. It started out in September 2018 with our designer and front-end developer, but we are closer towards the end than we ever were. The earlier milestones were the most challenging. New projected date for beta testing is May 15th.
Phase 1 covers a revamp of our inbox now called the “Hub” which should allow you to do most of your messaging, voice, groups, and contact management from this single center.
Later phases will cover other modules like the full contact page, groups, voice suite, campaigns, etc.
We are committed to ensuring we create a modern, fast app. Thanks for your patience.
Our aim is to complete our new, redesigned, communication hub inbox named The Hub.
* In the newer, revamped web app, you should have the ability to do everything you already do in our current version of the PastorsLine Inbox .
* You should be able to manage groups, contacts, and voice from The Hub.
* You should have access to our improved, top navigation flow.
* You should be able to work across all major browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Edge).
The PastorsLine platform is a church-driven, bulk texting platform developed and managed by church ‘insiders’. We know churches intimately. We’ve attended them, been part of their management teams and worked with them for many years. Our goal is to serve you by helping you spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. We’ve positioned ourselves to be your in-house, IT team for solutions to your communication issues. In addition to everything our platform can do, our partners love our responsiveness to their needs and fast tech support.
For us [a PastorsLine text-enabled church landline] has been huge for people to be able to text the number they already knew for our church. It means they don’t have to remember two different numbers when they are looking to try and get in touch with us. Most people don’t even realize its mostly an automated process.
Connections Pastor, The Exchange
PastorsLine has totally changed not only my workflow, but it's taken our "personal" factor up 10x! Just with our welcome process, we have gone from a 40% READ rate to a 40% CONVERSATION rate. That's just crazy!
So thanks 🙂
Thus far it’s worked perfectly!! When we wanna send out a text message we use the church office #.
When somebody calls this #, it just takes them to our office phone where a front desk agent can answer. This is perfect! Far better than our individual cell phones ringing when somebody calls our PastorsLine number. It’s only been a week but it’s working great!
Young Adults Pastor, Faith Chapel
When we finished our evangelistic event in Houston, 70% of those who were baptized, communicated with me through PastorsLine...it had a big influence.
Evangelist, End Time Hope
Baptism Worship Service Reminders - bulk texting—we were blown away by the number of people who showed up.
Director of Admin
By using the same phone number for texting and calling you get people to remember your phone number. When it comes the time that are ready to reach out to us they know the phone number.
[PastorsLine is] a huge answer to something we’ve been looking for. I was able to send a template with a field merge by scheduling it...
Dr. Matthew Robinson
I belong to a Church Communications group on Facebook, and you were highly recommended. We signed up with you over others because we are a multi-generational church and you have an ability to reach people on landlines.
The text message bible study invites are working great. We saw a huge increase from 5-6 to 10-12 and the numbers stayed consistent.
We hired [PastorsLine] to assist us in a new “Small Group” initiative we were launching at our church. The tools they provided us with helped us monitor and take action on hundreds of responses. Our workflow was cut in half and our ability to track, monitor and follow through with the data gathered more than doubled.
Associate Pastor, New Believers
I honestly never realized how many people must have been trying to text our landline all along! We never advertised our landline as a number you could text, but we have gotten multiple members of our congregation and even guests from some of our events to send us texts saying, ‘Thank you for this and that’, and it has been really great to see!
Joy Christian, Center,
St. Cloud, MN
It’s honestly the best feature that we have utilized. Being able to give one phone number for voice and text simplified our process.
Pastor Gateway Church, Ashland, KY
PastorsLine has been a fantastic tool which has enhanced communication with out church family. As with any tool, the secret is in learning how to use it effectively. I have been most excited when I see my church members telling their very own unchurched friends to text “PRAY” to our pastorsline number and have them join our prayer sessions.
Pastors, RGF Church
...the guest connection card...We had a great response -- people whose names and contact info we might not have captured otherwise. Our autoresponder directs them to our Welcome Center...where we have a gift...with their name on it.
The personal and almost immediate assistance at [PastorsLine] is so great! We feel valued and important! We love that it is church-based!!! … Jason and the team at [PastorsLine] are always ready to help, make things better, and they also welcome feedback.
Pastor @ College Drive Church
“Our land line [SMS-enabled by PastorsLine] is more familiar to our congregation. When we texted from the other number, some would inquire about who was sending the text as the number was unfamiliar, and we did not use it frequently, so by the time we sent another text, some had forgotten the number.”
Myrna and Peter Rohdin
New Life Fellowship Church, Elmhurst, NY
Sending and receiving texts from our landline number is the #1 feature that ensures visitors and members can engage with us on the most relevant means of communication there is right now. Having one number to advertise, simplifies all graphics, ads, announcements, etc. for us, as well as for those we're trying to reach. I use PastorsLine EVERY DAY. It's changing the way we engage with our members - it's both easier and more effective.
At first, the landline feature seemed like it would overload the church secretary since everyone would have the church phone number saved in their phones. This has not happened! People are simply interacting with our events better than ever before! We love the landline feature.